Jenn Mckinlay's News #12
August 1, 2014Book News:
MARKED DOWN FOR MURDER by my alter ego Josie Belle will be released on Sept 2nd. The Good Buys Girls are at it again and things are heating up for Sam and Maggie!
ON BORROWED TIME is released on Nov 4th. Murder and mayhem for the holidays in Briar Creek, CT and when Lindsey's brother Jack goes missing the crafternooners are on the case!
I am very humbled to be the guest of honor at the Desert Sleuths upcoming WriteNow! conference on August 15-16th in Phoenix. It looks to be a great event with presenting authors Catriona McPherson, Timothy Hallinan, Mark Sullivan and Graham Brown.
To celebrate the release of ON BORROWED TIME (my 20th mystery), my publisher and I have gotten together and will be offering up a "Jenn McKinlay Sampler". Winners will receive a signed copy of the first book from each of my Jenn McKinlay series (that's 3 books in all) as well as a nifty Library Lover's backpack and pen. Contests will run from August through October so keep an eye on the contest page on my website to enter!
What's on my mind:
A dear reader (Hi, Kathy R from Providence!) asked me to reprint an old blog post of mine because it's a favorite of hers, but she can't remember where she saved it. Boy howdy, do I know the feeling. Turns out it was a timely request because here we are in August again,which is where our newly updated story begins:
August is a special anniversary in my house. Four years ago this month, I was walking my five month old puppy Otto, a Schnauzer with very expressive eyebrows who loves me more than anyone has ever loved me – no, really, he’s my barnacle -- through the neighborhood when I saw a very large dog off leash. Not knowing if the dog was friendly and not wanting Otto to become the big guy’s appetizer, I opted to take a short cut in the opposite direction.
Halfway down the alley, I saw a mid-sized brown and black brindle dog, huddling against the gate of its block wall. My first thought was: Oh, crap, out of the pan and into the fire! Actually, my thoughts were a bit more profane than that but I’ll spare you. As there was no escaping this dog, I scooped up Otto in a football hold and put on my best mean face. It’s a pretty good one just ask the hooligans, aka my sons. As we passed, the dog hunkered low and growled a very scary growl.
I got Otto home and then began to worry about the stray dog, natch. It was the end of summer in Arizona, temps were still in the low hundreds and not likely to break soon. I decided I had to go back. Now, having been bitten by a few dogs in my time, I have a healthy respect (also called sweaty-palmed-terror) of dogs I don’t know. I decided to bring canine ice breakers, i.e. Milkbones, to see if I could get close enough to the dog to assess the situation.
The brindle was in the same spot, still hunkered low, still growling. I offered a biscuit. She growled. I offered another. She growled and thumped her tail at the same time. Hmm. I tried to get close. She growled and scared me so of course I went and woke up my husband.
The Hub came back with me and talked so sweetly to her that if I had been her I would have been in his lap immediately. He got her to come forward a little bit, where we could determine that she was a girl and that there were no signs of injury. Given the heat, he figured she was dehydrated and went to get water. I waited with her not getting any closer. She and I stared at each other, each trying to read the other’s intentions.
I started talking to her as nicely as the Hub had. She thumped her tail and growled. I held out a biscuit.
She stayed low to the ground and belly crawled toward me. I had a moment of panic (she has a gorgeous face with definite pit bull bone structure and I’d heard all the stories about aggressive breeds on the news) but I dug deep and kept my hand steady and kept talking. She scuttled forward until her nose was just under my hand. I held my breath, waiting for the snap and wondering if I could get away if she decided to sink her canines into my skin. Instead, she gently nudged the biscuit aside with her nose and pressed the top of her head into my palm and looked at me with her big baby browns.
She gave a huge shuddering sigh, as if she were psyching herself up for something, then she cautiously climbed into my lap. She leaned against me but held herself stiffly as if bracing herself for rejection. There was no question that she was taking a huge leap of faith by trusting me. When she looked at me, it was there in her soft chocolate eyes: Please don’t hurt me!
I carried her home, talking to her all the way. The Hub was just bringing out a big bowl of water and she slurped it down and promptly threw up. She had a collar but no tags. We didn’t know what to do.
The hooligans came out to meet her. It was love at first sight on both sides. Then we let Otto out to see how it went. He and the girl dog did the butt-sniffing “How you doin’?” thing that dogs do and then ran around the yard about eighty times, alternately chasing one another, until they both passed out in the grass.
There was silly talk about finding her owners, flyers were put up, but no one ever called. Clearly, she had been tossed out with the trash. Since we already had a dog, a fish, two hamsters and two cats, I was not super up for another pet, but how could I send her away, knowing that most dogs that have any pit bull in them end up being euthanized, and after witnessing her incredible leap of faith when she chose to trust me how could I let her down?
Names were tried out; Pepper, Scarlett, Tiger, Cinnamon Bun, but Annie from Little Orphan Annie (the Hub’s last name is Orf, so it’s really Orf-n-Annie) stuck. The Vet was visited repeatedly until she was immunized and nipped and tucked. We were told that she was about a month younger than Otto and just a puppy herself.
It took Annie about 6 months to understand that she had found her forever home, but now after four years, she gets it and there is not one day that goes by that I don’t see gratitude and love shining from that happy face. She has loads of nicknames now: Princess Annie, Anniebelly, Wrecking Ball – she snuggles with the enthusiasm of one – and my favorite from the Hub, Annie Pantalones or for short Annie Pants.
Annie has inspired me in so many ways. Not just with her leap of faith in us but also with her love of family and how she sees us as her precious pack. Honestly, she makes me a better person and probably a better writer. In two of my mystery series, the Cupcake Bakery and the Library Lover’s, my heroines rescue abandoned animals based upon my experience with her. Yes, having a pet is a lot of work and care and concern but for me and mine, a life without animals is no life at all.
Happy August! If you have a pet story to share with me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to my page on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenn-McKinlay/1414059082143302
I do love a good rescue story and pics are always welcome, too! Thanks, as always, for letting me visit with you -- you really are my favorite readers!